The life of Cy Grant (1919 – 2010), whose extensive career spanned acting, song writing, black rights activism and the RAF, will be celebrated by a project at London Metropolitan Archives (LMA) to inspire young people and raise awareness of his achievements.
Documents, manuscripts, photographs and films dating from the 1940s to 2010, which chart Cy Grants life and form part of the Cy Grant Archive, will be catalogued and made public for the first time, following an award of a £79,800 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund to Cy Grant Trust.
Guyanese-born Grant, who died aged 90 in 2010, was enlisted as a Royal Air Force Flight Lieutenant Navigator in the Second World War, and also worked as a singer/song writer, broadcaster, writer, multi-ethnic arts community organiser, and activist. He was also the first black person to feature regularly on UK television, chiefly, because of his appearances on the BBC current affairs programme, Tonight with the late Cliff Michelmore. In 2014, Cy Grant’s family deposited the Cy Grant Archive at LMA (which is owned and managed by the City of London Corporation) and a year later, Cy Grant Trust, LMA and Windrush Foundation formed a partnership to oversee the archive project, which builds on a growing number of collections deposited at LMA by the Black African Caribbean community.
Samantha Moxon, Cy Grants daughter, said: This project means a great deal to our family. My dad’s dream was that the importance of his work should be recognised and never forgotten.
Geoff Pick, Director of London Metropolitan Archives, said: We are delighted that we have been entrusted with the Cy Grant Archive and have become a key partner in preserving and making accessible this outstanding collection that traces the life and work of a very special Londoner and hero of the Black Caribbean community. This initiative builds on the City of London Corporations strong foundations in documenting the history of the capitals many communities.
The project will connect young people to Cy Grant – essentially, a role model for todays young generations – and encourage them to learn about his achievements. Original source material will be made available to the public through youth/inter-generational workshops and events, a school education pack, online resources, and an exhibition hosted by the Marcus Garvey Library in Tottenham. Screenings will take place at The British Film Institute and LMA.
The project will run until spring 2017, with a final celebration event to launch the archive catalogue. The full release of the final catalogue will be available in 2017 by viewing London Metropolitan Archives online catalogue.